Robin Potawsky first found out about the devastating war in Congo after watching an Oprah show episode featuring Lisa Ling’s trip to Congo. She learned of the mass atrocities with militias attacking villages daily and raping women as old as 80 and as young as 5. Women for Women International Founder and CEO Zainab Salbi was also on that show and informed Robin of how she could take action to support a woman in Congo right away. She went to the Women for Women International website and decided to sponsor a sister in Congo that day.
Robin was particularly moved by a story of a woman in the Congo whose home was attacked by militants. They cut her legs and hands and even her belly with knives, machetes and guns. They started raping her in front of her boys. They asked her sons to hold her legs and hands apart as they tried to tie her body parts. They then asked one of her boys to rape her. But he begged them not to. When her son refused, they broke his leg.
Robin couldn’t get her story out of her head. She felt very connected because she herself had a son, Yuri, and she couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be in this woman’s place. She kept thinking about their strength and courage.
It was about a year later when she read about Lisa Shannon and the Run for Congo Women in Women for Women International’s newsletter. Robin knew she wanted to do something to help women in Congo.
She started reaching out to friends and family members. She remembers her first contribution being only $5 – but she was so thrilled when she received it. She would talk to anyone that would listen about the Congo – so much to the point that Robin jokes that when people see her coming they will say, “Here comes that Run for Congo Women lady.”
Although she wasn’t much of a runner, she decided she was going to run 12 miles on the same day that Lisa Shannon ran her second Run for Congo Women in Portland, OR.
Robin trained for a little while before she began her lone run — but had only run 4.5 miles before she ran the 12 miles on the day of her run. As she ran and hit mile 8 and 9 and 10 — the pain and exhaustion started to set in. Each time she thought about stopping, she kept persevering because she knew she had to finish and honor the Congolese woman and her son. She finished all 12 miles, with her son Yuri riding his bike beside her the whole way.
On her first run, Robin raised $1,400 to support women in Congo, mostly from small donations. Thank you Robin for all that you’ve done.
For more information on how to do your own Lone Run – click here!